It’s report card time for the Royals, whose 2017 season of wild winning stretches were offset by maddening droughts where either the hitters were all cold at the same time or the starting pitchers couldn’t go five innings and when they did, the bullpen couldn't hold the lead.
There were a number of Royals who did some heavy lifting, but others who failed miserably and their grades reflected that. Lots of highs and lows left the Royals somewhere in the middle, one reason their final record was 80-82, one game worse than last year's 81-81 mark.
The players who are graded here are ones who contributed throughout the season and weren’t just fringe players who had a cup of coffee. Or they were players who at the start were expected to contribute, but played their way to the minors.
• PITCHERS •
• Scott Alexander — Who would have ever thought he’d be one of the bullpen’s most valuable performers? Grade — B.
• Mike Minor — Minor did everything that was asked of him. Might want to try him as a starter next year. Grade — B.
• Kevin McCarthy —Never really trusted with high-level situations, just a middle man who ate up innings. Grade — C.
• Ryan Buchter — A left-handed McCarthy. Grade — C.
• Peter Moylan — Throw out his first month and the guy was nails. Got a lot of big outs when needed. Grade — B+.
• Danny Duffy — What a weird year for the expected ace. Looked the role of No. 1 at times, but also had those bouts where his mind seemed elsewhere. Then there was that off-the-field drive-thru incident at Burger King that is still muddy. Grade — C.
• Joakim Soria — Became the fans' favorite whipping post of everything that went wrong. Failed way too many times and is now a shell of his former self. Grade — D+.
• Jason Vargas — Amazing start that you knew wouldn’t last, but finished strong and tied for the league lead in wins. A free agent that probably won't be back, except maybe on a one-year deal. Grade — A-.
• Jake Junis — Came out of nowhere to be the Royals’ most reliable starter the last 2 months of the season. Grade — A-.
• Nate Karns — Flashed a lot of potential at the No. 5 spot before his season ended in May. Should be in the rotation next year. Grade — C+.
• Kelvin Herrera — The closer role overwhelmed him at times. Not the pitcher he was when he was a set-up man. Grade — C-.
• Jason Hammel — How many times did the Royals hand him a lead before he gave it up? Always seemed good for about four or five innings, but a major disappointment for the money he was paid. Grade — D.
• Ian Kennedy — The Royals won’t be able to give him away in the offseason because of his salary. Couldn’t keep the ball in the park. Grade — D.
• Trevor Cahill — Why do pitchers like Cahill have success other places and then when they get to Kansas City they bomb? Grade — D.
• Brandon Maurer — Just like Cahill, he was solid in San Diego. A bust in Kansas City. Grade — D.
• POSITION PLAYERS •
• Eric Hosmer — Finally in what probably was his final year as a Royal he tapped his enormous potential. Got a feeling he's going to be a Yankee or Red Sox next year. Grade — A.
• Lorenzo Cain — His RBI count was well off what was expected, but was batting No. 2 the second half of the season. Other than that he was excellent. Might be back, you just never know. Seems to like Kansas City, but somebody will probably overpay to sign him. Grade — B+.
• Whit Merrifield — The surprise of the year. His homer and RBI totals were remarkable for a leadoff hitter. Just hope he's not a one-hit wonder (or is it One-Whit wonder?) Grade — A.
• Melky Cabrera — I really hope the Royals sign him, say, to a one-year deal and let him DH next year as well as play a little outfield. A professional hitter. Grade — B+.
• Mike Moustakas — It’s a shame he’ll probably be a Los Angeles Angel next year. His team home run record will stand probably well after I’m gone from this earth. Grade — A.
• Salvador Perez — The definition of a warrior. Still swings at too many bad pitches and has no patience, but among the best in the game at his position. Grade — A-.
• Jorge Bonifacio — Just wonder what his numbers would have been had the Royals not traded for Cabrera, which seriously cut into his playing time. Too many strikeouts, but could start next year since Cain probably won’t be back. Grade — B-.
• Alcides Escobar — Esky made a great charge the last two months and is an iron man. Turned an D grade into a C+ with his finish. Grade — C+
• Alex Gordon — For somebody making id="mce_marker"8 million, a bust. His strong finish hopefully carries over to next year, but for five months he was atrocious. Grade — D.
• Brandon Moss — Guy was a strikeout machine. He did hit more than 20 homers, but otherwise was a poor man’s (very poor) Kendrys Morales. Grade — D.
• Drew Butera — I always said he did one good thing every game he played in. The ideal caddy for Salvy. Grade — B.
• Cheslor Cuthbert — Was so good in 2016 and just struggled in 2017. Better get it figured out in the offseason because he'll probably be the everyday third baseman next year. Grade — D.
• Jorge Soler — Look up “bust” in the dictionary and you’ll find Soler. Was injured from the get-go and wasted a season. Still has a lot of potential if he can make contact. Grade — F.
• Paulo Orlando — After a great 2016, he fell off the planet. Which is the real Paulo? Grade— D-.
• Ramon Torres — The new Christian Colon. That means he gets the usual Colon grade. Grade — C.
• Raul Mondesi Jr. — At some point the light is going to go off. But not yet. Grade — D.
• MANAGER •
• Ned Yost — Never gets too high or too low. He just wasn't given enough pitching to get the job done. Interesting to see that he let go four of his longtime coaches today, perhaps a signal of wide-sweeping changes this offseason. Grade — B.
• GENERAL MANAGER •
Dayton Moore — The Soler-for-Wade Davis trade was a disaster. I thought the trade with San Diego was going to be a huge plus, but it also bombed. The Cabrera trade helped. All-in-all, it wasn't one of his better years as the Brandon Moss signing also flopped. Not getting deals done with any of the free agents also earns a black mark. Grade — D.